Just Charge It


Thanks to a new NMU Bookstore program that allows students to charge textbooks to their student accounts, anyone who is short on cash no longer has to wait for their overage checks to buy books.

The pilot program, which was implemented Jan. 5, allows students to charge up to $500 worth of textbooks to their NMU account. This gives students an interest free way of buying books while waiting for overage checks.

Early returns from the program appear to be successful, with the bookstore reporting $257,602.69 worth of books charged under the program as of Jan. 13. That number accounts for 20.9 percent of the bookstores total sales. The service has been used by 1,339 students.

Bookstore Manager Mike Kuzak said he has been pleased with the early results.

“Students don’t have to delay their book purchases, they don’t have to wait for more funds to get the books they need for classes,” he said. “I don’t know how anyone could be against that.”

Many other schools, including Central Michigan University and Northland College, have similar programs. Kuzak said he consulted with those schools as he worked to develop NMU’s program.

The program was pushed by Associated Students of NMU (ASNMU) President Hobie Webster. Webster said he felt the program was needed at Northern because of the large percentage of students who rely on financial aid.

“Students don’t always have the resources to get the materials they need to be a successful student,” Webster said. “Just because someone is from a low-income background . doesn’t mean they should have to be at any kind of disadvantage academically because they can’t afford books.”

According to Webster, this isn’t the first time the idea had been brought before the administration.

“It’s been talked about before,” he said. “It was always framed the wrong way though. No one had ever talked about it as a way of helping students get the tools they need to succeed. We were just looking at it the wrong way.”

Webster added that thus far in the semester he has heard lots of positive feedback from students who have used the service.

“It’s been extremely successful and I couldn’t be happier about it,” he said.

The continuation of the program depends on several factors, including the rate of delinquent student accounts. Kuzak said he would like to not only continue the program, but to expand it. This expansion could occur either by increasing the amount of money that could be charged to the account, or by allowing students to charge other school supplies to their accounts.

“For some people the $500 isn’t enough,” he said. “Some nursing students have to spend more than that on books, and I know that cosmetology students have an expensive kit they need to buy.”

Webster agreed with this assessment.

“The program is a huge step,” he said. “Now it just needs to get bigger.”